A Gathering of Hope Reflection

By The Rev. Ginny Aebischer

Assistant to the Bishop, ELCA South Carolina Synod

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I would like to share with you a Reflection on A Gathering of Hope! which took place last week.

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 25: 6-8

This word from the Prophet Isaiah came to mind as a vivid picture of God’s intentions for all humanity as I stood on the steps of Beth Shalom Synogogue and watched the crowds spill out onto North Trenholm Road in Columbia, South Carolina on the evening of October 30, 2018 after A Gathering for Hope!

Just a few days after the horrific shootings at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where 11 people were killed as they worshipped together, many communities across the nation gathered in prayer for peace and healing. I hope many of you had the opportunity to attend one of those services. In Columbia the Gathering of Hope was hosted by Beth Shalom Synagogue with Tree of Life, Chabad-Aleph House and the Columbia Jewish Federation. This Prayer Service of Solidarity, Action and Healing included over 1000 citizens of Columbia in all our diversity gathered together to grieve the loss of innocent lives and to stand together against hatred and evil as brothers and sisters, all of us – children of God! That was a moment to savor and a beautiful testimony to the way God’s kingdom can come together to support and encourage one another. Honestly, I wished that every person I know and love could have been there and experienced this!

I posted on my Facebook page: “We gathered in grief but we spilled out on the streets in hope. Pictures can hardly capture the vision of God’s kingdom that we experienced tonight! We were reminded that we are all children of God! May we live each day what we experienced tonight.”

At the Gathering of Hope we were not separated as Jew, nor Muslim, nor Christian! We were not black, white or brown! We were all children of God! And we were together to pray and to sing of God’s reign in our lives! We have this opportunity to turn hatred and evil upside down and to work together on behalf of our Lord when we act in faith and reach out to one another in love. I pray we will not wait for the next tragedy to reach out and get to know our neighbors. Each of us can do this in the communities where we live and serve. This is a time in our history when we can make a significant difference by taking the time to get to know one another across faith traditions and by lifting each other in prayer regularly.

May the Peace of Christ reign in our hearts and show in our lives!

In Christ,

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